Where Do I Start? Advice for First Year Special Education Teachers

One of my former students called me today in a panic “what do I do I keep getting teachers telling me to take this student because they don't know what to do with them” My former student asked me do I take them? What about my students with IEPs? I can't take all students– I don't want the teachers to think I am not a good team player…”

Compliance and Access to the regular curriculum should be at the forefront!

I have seen this scenario with growing difficulties over the years and into multiple years in many schools. Regular education teachers say they don't have another option to help students in need. Special education teachers have to say that the child doesn't meet eligibility criteria or they can't take them because they already have a full caseload.

What about compliance for special education students?
What about regular education teachers not able to help students.

The answer is collaborative research-based practices as part of a Response to Intervention model. What is the difference? All teachers at the particular grade level plan for all students using screening and progress monitoring data and ensuring access to regular education curriculum.
Prevention & Intervention
Research-based instruction and intervention
Differentiated and collaborative problem-solving and planning
Student growth
Options for regular education teachers
More instructional time for special education teacher
Appropriate referrals to special education


How can you start? If you are thinking about reading here is a good way to start:
Begin by reading this article by Reading Rockets
This article will help you guarantee that your Tier 1 or Core reading instruction is based on research-based instructional practices, a main component of RTI.

Then visit the DIBELS website to download for free a reading universal screening assessments in reading k-6th grade in English, Spanish, and Math.
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Then, for strategic Tier 2 interventions and intensive Tier 3 interventions visit the National Center for Response to Intervention to evaluate and decide which packaged programs and approaches would best fit your needs. Another option with online free training can be found at The IRIS Center from Vanderbilt University